May 17, 2021

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Israel Alarmed About US ‘Completely Folding’ to Iran Amid Vienna Talks on JCPOA Revival, Report Says

Tel Aviv is concerned over a “complete folding of America” during the ongoing Vienna talks on the Iran nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the newspaper Israel Hayom quoted unnamed sources as saying on Sunday.

The sources argued that Washington’s previous pledge to conclude a “stronger and longer-term nuclear deal” in the immediate future is unrealistic.

“The Americans may want to believe that they will reach a better agreement in the future, but once they return to the original agreement they lose their leverage against Iran, which has no interest in changing the current agreement. This promise is a lie or naive”, the sources claimed.

Israel has repeatedly pledged to do its best to prevent Tehran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, and earlier this year, Israeli Ambassador to the US Gilad Erdan warned that Washington and Tel Aviv would go their separate ways on Iran policy if the Biden administration returns to the JCPOA.

© AP Photo / Majid Asgaripour
A worker walks through a part of the electricity generating plant of the Bushehr nuclear power plant, just outside the southern city of Bushehr, Iran, Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2010

As for the remarks by sources on Sunday, they come a day after Abbas Araqchi, Iran’s chief negotiator at the Vienna talks, warned that even though progress had been made, much work remains to be done before a final deal is reached.

“A new understanding appears to be emerging and there is a common ground between the parties on the ultimate goal. But the path ahead is not an easy one and there are some serious disagreements”, Araqchi told reporters.

WH Warns It Won’t Lift All of Trump’s Anti-Iranian Sanctions

He spoke after the Biden administration reportedly made it clear that it would not scrap every single sanction that former President Donald Trump slapped on Iran, despite pressure from the Islamic Republic to do so.

“The question still remains about whether the seriousness of purpose and the intent of coming back into compliance that the US showed will be reciprocated by Iran. We saw some signs of it, but certainly not enough”, a unnamed State Department official was quoted by the news outlet Politico as saying last week.  

In a separate development last week, Iran officially informed the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) of its intent to begin enrichment of uranium to 60 percent at the Natanz nuclear facility, where an act of sabotage earlier occurred and where disabled IR-1 centrifuges will be replaced with more powerful ones.

Iran reported the incident on 11 April, with Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif saying Tehran believes that Israel was behind the sabotage at the Natanz facility. Israeli channel Kan, in turn, reported citing intelligence sources as saying that the Natanz facility was subjected to a cyberattack involving the Jewish state’s intelligence service Mossad.

Washington Lauds ‘Business-Like’ Atmosphere of Vienna Talks

Tehran’s statement about its uranium enrichment drive was preceded by a State Department spokesperson saying that the US views the Vienna meetings as a sign that Iran is serious about returning to compliance with the JCPOA.

“The atmosphere […] was business-like, they [the Iranian side] took the matter seriously. We read that as a sign that perhaps they mean what they say when they claim they want to find a way back to the JCPOA if the United States is back in compliance”, the spokesperson noted.

In 2015, Iran signed the JCPOA with the P5+1 group of countries, including Russia, the US, the UK, China, France plus Germany.  The agreement required Iran to scale back its nuclear programme and downgrade its uranium reserves in exchange for sanctions relief.

In 2018, the United States unilaterally withdrew from the nuclear deal and began re-imposing sanctions on Iran, who retaliated by starting to gradually abandon its own JCPOA commitments a year later.

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